SAAF assists in sea rescue off Durban


A South African Air Force (SAAF) Oryx helicopter was used to evacuate two injured sailors off Durban this week, after their vessel caught fire on the high seas.

The 46 metre long Taiwanese fishing vessel Hsiang Fuh No. 6 caught fire on Sunday 9 July some 400 nautical miles East of the South African coastline and the 294 meter container ship Ever Diadem had reportedly witnessed the burning vessel and diverted to assist, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said. The bulk carriers Hampton Bay and SBI Antares joined Ever Diadem to assist.
30 survivors, believed to be all of the crew, had abandoned ship onto two lifeboats and 14 of the survivors were taken onboard the SBI Antares and 16 onboard the Ever Diadem, which then headed to Durban.

On 11 July it was learnt that a 29 year old Filipino was suffering burns and in a serious condition onboard the Ever Diadem, and the NSRI were tasked by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) to evacuate the injured survivor off the ship.

The NSRI Durban sea rescue craft Eikos Rescuer II, accompanied by a Netcare 911 rescue paramedic, was launched and rendezvoused with the Ever Diadem 6 nautical miles from the Port of Durban. They found the sailor suffered approximately 40% 2nd and 3rd degree burns, and he was stabilised and a second patient, a 63 year old Chinese survivor, was treated for soft tissue injuries to his right knee.

An SA Air Force (SAAF) 15 Squadron Oryx helicopter had by that stage been dispatched carrying three Netcare 911 rescue paramedics, two of whom were hoisted onto the ship. They assisted with stabilising the two patients, who were then hoisted into the helicopter.

The two rescue paramedics were then hoisted into the helicopter and both patients were airlifted to hospital in the helicopter – the 29 year old Filipino sailor in a stable but serious condition and the 63 year old Chinese sailor in a stable condition, the NSRI’s Andre Fletcher, NSRI Durban deputy station commander, said.

The NSRI added that Telkom Maritime Radio Services are broadcasting an all ships alert warning ships at sea of the abandoned fishing vessel that remains adrift.